Midweek Musings 21st April 2021

Knowledge Is The Wing Whereby We Fly To Heaven[1]

(By Steve & Ellie Radford)

When we were in the middle of clearing mum’s bungalow very recently there were many treasures which don’t appear to have seen the light of day for quite some time. However, one in particular, which although stuck together with sticky tape of dubious quality, holds the answers to several questions for which several have now out of date answers. To be exact 2775 facts, hints and instructions with an additional 386 sayings written at the top of each page and several pictorial advertisements for goods and services. There has been no part of each page that hasn’t been filled!

Published by Houlston and Sons, Paternoster Square, London in 1889, it’s the seventy-ninth edition of Enquire Within upon Everything. How much it was read though we have wondered. By the looks of it, the glued binding coming apart from the cover, it appears to show its age, but the pages are intact. So, either it’s been very carefully thumbed or what we would now call a ‘coffee table’ book.

Professing its own successes, the publisher claims to have reached English civilisation in all but a few scarce spots worldwide. At the time of writing the seventy fifth edition, it had sold one million copies. We must admit, the title had us intrigued so we’d pick it up and pop it down to read as the fancy took us. Wikipedia describes it as is a how-to book, akin to a short encyclopaedia for domestic life. It is believed the last modernised version was in 1994.

But then again, there’s another book or indeed another book of books, of which we have four different copies of alone on our bookcase, of another ‘pick up and put down how-to’. Our Bibles. They don’t have a temptingly attractive ‘come read me’ title but once opened the pages contain law, history, wisdom and poetry, prophecy, gospel and letters. The Word of God with pages dogeared, passages underlined, highlighted and perhaps one has seen better days. Both of our Mum’s would have said showing signs of being ‘much loved.’

In 2014, the Bible topped the ‘most influential’ book in a nationwide survey by the renowned Folio Society when people were asked to rank from a list of 30 titles according to their significance in today’s world[2]. It was based on not enjoyment or popularity but for being the most valuable to humanity. It pipped The Origin of the Species, A Brief History of Time, Relativity, Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Principa Mathematica, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Qur’an, The Wealth of Nations, and The Double Helix. Quite a line up! As of the 2000’s the Bible sells approximately 100 million copies annually.

We can’t say that we’ve ever visited a friend’s home that has the Bible as a coffee table edition. However, unlike our ‘find’, the Bible is still relevant spiritually to us all today. Essential information on how we each can personally know God will never be irrelevant or outdated. To know Him; to experience forgiveness and to know how the Lord would have us live will never be irrelevant or outdated. Yes, time does march on but God’s Word whether commands, stories or examples are timeless even during these times of swift technological advancement. “If you are truly my disciples, you will abide in my word. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32. Isn’t that just amazing? We believe so.

[1] Quoted in Enquire Within Upon Everything, p307

[2] Visit https://www.foliosociety.com/uk/blog/the-most-influential-books-of-the-moment/ for further commentary on this research.

(Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash)